Hong Kong and Taiwan signed (30-Dec-2011) an agreement to increase air passenger and cargo capacity and "encourage new airlines to enter the market". The Air Services Arrangement comes into immediate effect and sets no limit on the number of airlines designated by both sides. The two sides agreed to boost passenger capacity by 28 weekly services for each side and another seven weekly services for each, effective from the 2012 IATA summer schedule. Cargo capacity will increase by 1100 tonnes per week for each side and another 200 tonnes per week for each side from the 2012 IATA summer schedule. Special chartered services are allowed between Hong Kong and Taichung, Hualien, Taitung, Magong, Kinmen and Tainan, and each side can operate up to 28 weekly services. Airport Authority Hong Kong (AAHK) stated the arrangement will increase cargo capacity by more than 70% to 3000 tonnes per week for each side by summer of 2012. Passenger capacity will grow from 170 to 205 weekly services by summer of 2012, meaning an additional five daily services in each direction between Hong Kong and Taiwan. At the moment, the passenger and cargo capacities between Hong Kong and Taiwan are 170 flights and 1700 tonnes per week for each side, respectively.
Cathay Pacific, Dragonair, Hong Kong Airlines, Hong Kong Express and AAHK all separately welcomed the agreement. Cathay Pacific stated it currently operates 108 weekly services to Taipei and is "always interested to operate more flights to Taipei and other destinations in Taiwan”. Cathay Pacific’s sister airline Dragonair also operates three daily services to Taipei and six daily services to Kaohsiung. Hong Kong Airlines and Hong Kong Express stated they would "take this opportunity to expand our routes and operate more flights to different destinations in Taiwan", with Hong Kong Airlines already receiving traffic rights between Hong Kong and Taiwan by Hong Kong's Transport and Housing Bureau. Hong Kong Airlines will launch four daily passenger services and all-cargo services with 650 tonnes per week on Taipei or Kaohsiung routes, starting to operate in 1Q2012. [more - original PR - Hong Kong Government] [more - original PR - Cathay Pacific] [more - original PR - Hong Kong Airlines and Hong Kong Express] [more - original PR - Dragonair] [more - original PR - Hong Kong Airlines] [more - original PR - Airport Authority of Hong Kong]